Sunday, January 23, 2011

One Thousand Gifts...a Review

There are certain books that you read in life that when you do read them think them the best kept secret known to man. You go back and re-read them, maybe all or parts. Hinds Feet on High Places, The Prodigal God, The Jesus I Never Knew, What’s so Amazing about Grace, those are a few of mine.

Now I have another one.

One Thousand Gifts by Anne Voskamp is one of those books. If you have checked my links at all, the ones that I check and read every day for inspiration, cheer, encouragement, and all those things that we in the family of God are supposed to do for one another, you will find Holy Experience there.

Sometimes people write books that you read and they are you, verbalizing in a way you can’t. Saying what you have learned, are experiencing, and you wonder if perhaps your dilemmas in this place are not that uncommon to more folk than you realize.

Hardships, sorrow’s, heartbreak, we have experienced them, but how do we respond, what do we learn, take away from them? Maybe we know what we should learn and take away, but do we remember and retain and keep and cherish those lessons learned? You will find answers in here from a fellow traveler who has found the door and is holding it open for the rest of us to go through, being that signpost that we are all called to be—“this is the way, walk in it.”

I was a fan of Ann Voskamp before. Her daily writing has become a small part of my devotions each day to focus my mind on loving God with all my heart, soul, and might. I am even more impressed and encouraged by her willingness to lead the way through the aftermath of the mire life can become, by sharing her story, and the lessons learned, and remembered, and followed. But most of all by the Christ she points to.

You will cry, you will grin, and you will feel it deep inside you as you read and relate and thank God, and Praise Him for these words that have come from a place of deep truth born of deeper sorrow. Just the beginning of being Thankful.
If you are experiencing dark days, the darkest you couldn’t even imagined, or you have experienced such days, and come through praying that nothing like that ever repeats itself, this book is for you, for it reminds us of the most important thing of “giving thanks in all circumstances” and why……..yes, why…….the most important part.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"When Hell Freezes Over"

I’ve been reading in the prophets lately—a little “lite” reading, but as usual something came off the page that made me think of the above saying.

When God gave Jeremiah the word of the New Covenant He would bring to His people, He said:

“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

He followed that in Chapter 33 by telling just how He would do this.

Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah:
‘In those days and at that time
I will cause to grow up to David
A Branch of righteousness;
He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
In those days Judah will be saved,
And Jerusalem will dwell safely.
And this is the name by which she will be called:
“For thus says the LORD: ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; nor shall the priests, the Levites, lack a man to offer burnt offerings before Me, to kindle grain offerings, and to sacrifice continually.’ ”

This promise, and the explanation of the fulfillment of it are the prophecy of Christ’s coming, Jesus fulfilled these by coming and dyeing for our sins.
Most of you would say, “Yes, Andrea we know all this.”
BUT did you know that God followed both of these promises with a “when Hell freezes over” confirmation?

Thus says the LORD,
Who gives the sun for a light by day,
The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night,
Who disturbs the sea,
And its waves roar
(The LORD of hosts is His name):
“If those ordinances depart
From before Me, says the LORD,
Then the seed of Israel shall also cease
From being a nation before Me forever.”
Thus says the LORD:
“If heaven above can be measured,
And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath,
I will also cast off all the seed of Israel
For all that they have done, says the LORD.

And again in Jeremiah 33:19

“Thus says the LORD: ‘If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levites, the priests, My ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.’ ”

Did you get that?

The challenges that He gives are, in essence, a “when hell freezes over” type of deal. He may not have used slang to express it, but I’m pretty sure He established the whole idea of such an absurd thing as “when hell freezes over” ever happening.

After all:
The sun will always rise, and night will follow day.
The stars cannot be counted.
We know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the caverns and caves of this earth.

So we can be assured His covenant will stand forever!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Milestones and Markers

Two weeks ago we were invited to attend a birthday bash for my aunt who turned 94. I told Roger that when we get to be that old birthday celebrations become as important again as when you were 4; a huge milestone on both ends of a life.

But what about the in between? What milestones do we mark and how.

A year ago at this time we were in a whirlwind of recovery from a divorce, and the shock and awe of a grandchild who, like the Christ child’s, untimely existence and appearance was rocking our world. I attempted to make sense of it all, and was literally grasping in prayer for guidance, and help not only for Roger and me but for our children. I, as usual, had to keep my hands busy. A baby. What do I always do when there is the announcement of a baby? I make a quilt.

But this quilt would have to be special; after all it was going to be for our first grandchild.

During the time I stitched and sewed, I prayed. I hoped, I wished, and I cried out to God with every stitch asking that my prayers give way in the faith that God would see us through such a tumultuous time in our family.

Creativity is something that brings peace into my life. There is no better balm than when I am busy thinking about something else, and doing something when I feel I can do nothing.

I finished it yesterday, and Samuel received it on his first Christmas.

When I shook it out after sewing the last stitch and looked at the finished project, I cried because I remember where I was this time last year, emotionally, physically and spiritually. That quilt is a reminder of answered prayer, healing, restoration, and the joy that is ours. But most of all it is a reminder of God’s tender mercies. A milestone documented in a marker with a verse to remind us all that with every wish that was made, that with every prayer that was uttered, God has been faithful to stay with us, bring us through, reminding us of His compassion and mercy; His tender loving care.